Three times in three years, Jen Acuna has applied for and received a baking license from the state Department of Consumer Protection.
She hasn’t changed her wares — coconut mango cookies and sourdough breads — and her credentials haven’t expired, but they don’t move from one kitchen to the next.
Connecticut laws prevent people from selling food and drink made in their own homes, and food entrepreneurs looking to break into the industry have to navigate a number of state and local requirements on top of finding a proper kitchen within their limited budgets. Shared cooking spaces have become a popular solution, but demand far outstrips supply and not every venture succeeds.
Acuna, who runs Loafing Around LLC, had her first shared kitchen in Willimantic and travel costs ate up her profits. Her second, Thyme Share in Hartford, suddenly closed its doors in December after less than a year in business.
But a new crop of co-cooking spaces are opening their doors with a new twist on the shared space model — using existing kitchens that otherwise sit empty for hours or days each week.
So when Acuna, 49, learned about Hands on Hartford’s new shared kitchen in the old Spaghetti Warehouse building, she called state inspectors and made another appointment.
“I have to laugh,” Acuna said. “Getting into the food business is not for the weak at heart and not for the dreamer. You have to do so much.”
In the spring, she became the first tenant to share the…
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